(Gary Duarte of USNEF) – An initiative was launched in 2013 that few people know about in Nevada, but it is one of those “issues” that is very important to us in the Western U.S. NuScale Power is one of the nuclear power companies in the development of SMRs, Small Modular Reactors. A simplified concept is 1/3rd the size, 1/3rd the safety, and 1/3rd the cost. Regardless if we think that the public will conserve enough power to meet the demand, common sense will show us that we won’t, which would suggest that we will only meet our needs by new power production. We can sit here and denounce nuclear energy as much as we want, while China is building some 40 nuclear power plants towards replacing their coal fleet.
This week, I am up in Idaho Falls, ID. Another place our grassroots public is seldom familiar with (INL) is the U.S Department of Energy, Idaho National Laboratory which is designated as the foremost nuclear technology research laboratory in the country. The DOE has contracted a partnership with NuScale Power to build the nation’s first SMR, mini light-water reactor in Idaho Falls. The WIN program was adopted by the Governors in all Western states with the exception of CA and Nevada. WIN is designed to educate the states and the public about the reasoning behind the concepts and applications of SMRs. For many years, the safety and carbon-free generation of nuclear power has been misrepresented by our politics and the media, and this must be corrected, through an educated public policy.
Several factors are very important for Nevada’s growth. It must become energy-independent (within its own means) and it must solve its water issue. Both resolutions come to the same answer. We learned long ago that the most efficient high output power source for water desalination is nuclear. Our aircraft carriers provide clean water and power to stricken disaster areas worldwide.
All energy production sources are “location-dependent” meaning if you have to transmit the electric power through long distances, it loses power and economic value, inflating the cost and defeating the purpose. The most productive option is to create energy in the near proximity service area. Therefore, SMR plants are ideal for rural communities and concentrated energy consumption, like mining and casino entertainment. An example being, an SMR plant could provide all of the power for all of the casinos in Las Vegas. The point being, that the casinos (which are large consumers of electrical power) would be able to manage and control their own energy costs. The goal being cheaper than a profit-driven Power Company or grid power purchasing. Every private business continually strives to lower operating expenses while expanding market share. Power as an operating expense, depending on the type of business, such as manufacturing, can vary from 10 to 50 or 60%, making industrial manufacturing power a major operating cost to the business.
Growth in a desert requires a concerted effort by government, business, education and public policy. Decades long power projects require fully transparent planning and cooperation. We live in an age of development that is coming through science and engineering. We have to embrace and validate this through parallel research, not by unfounded emotional opposition.
As you process this exclusive article for Nevada News & Views, our grassroots citizens should contact your legislators, County Commissioners, and Governor Sandoval’s administration urging them to reconsider the Western Initiative for Nuclear.
Mr. Duarte is Director of the US Nuclear Foundation, a Nevada-based 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation whose mission is to influence change in public opinion towards knowledgeable citizens about nuclear energy and waste repository issues for the grassroots public, based on logic, common sense and deductive reasoning. For more information, visit www.USNuclearEnergy.org.